FBI Delays Releasing Surveillance Video In Boston Attack

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Robert Siegel talks with counterterrorism expert Nicholas Cassale about where the investigation and the benefits and pitfalls of releasing information to the public too soon.


Well, as Boston and its many wounded tried to look forward, hundreds of law enforcement officers and investigators are hard at work looking back, trying to find the person or the people behind this attack. We know authorities are making progress, thanks, in part, to video footage of the scene before the two bombs went off.

And we know the FBI is now looking to speak with certain individuals. But what else might be happening behind the scenes of this massive investigation? Well, we're going to put that question now to Nicholas Cassale, formerly of the New York Police Department and former director of counterterrorism for the New York Metropolitan Transportation Authority, now has a private investigation firm. Welcome to the program.

And first of all, how do you comb through what must be hours and hours of footage from countless sources all without missing something?

NICHOLAS CASALE: Hundreds if not thousands in total. But what you're going to have is, both from the Federal Bureau of Investigation Terrorist Task Force and the Boston detectives, you're going to have people that specialize in technical response; groups that are going to be able to ask for or go out and look for video, and then they're going to review it. And at some point they're going to catalog it to that which is valuable.

SIEGEL: There seems to be some internal debate, within the FBI, about whether to release certain footage to the public - images of people and they'd like to talk to. First of all, what would be the reasons in favor of releasing those pictures?

CASALE: Well, first of all, surveillance video is an excellent investigative tool. It allows investigators to put together that which occurred prior to, during, and after an incident. However, it's not a - cameras, in and of themselves, are not a deterrent from perpetrating a crime. So they're going to have to look at what and who were there. That's where it's going to be a great tool.

SIEGEL: But it would seem that the tool could be helped or it might be hindered by letting everyone in the country see which particular images they're most interested in. Why hold them close to the vest?

CASALE: Well, its first of all, it's the judicious approach for account and it has to be an effort by both the FBI and the Boston detectives. And there has to be a value placed on it. The one thing you cannot tolerate is leaks from any law enforcement agency, because that allows (unintelligible) approach may be to satisfy the media, but without a concentrated game plan. When you do...

SIEGEL: But it isn't just the media. I mean aren't investigators aided by a state were looking for this person - if you know it is, we just like to talk to him?

CASALE: Exactly, and you have to send out - after it's agreed upon, you send out the photo. But you also identify why you want that person. You may not want that person as a suspect. And you do not want to categorize him as a person of interest or a potential perpetrator. That may be a person that is at the scene and you may say, not only does anybody know him - let us know who he is. But if you see yourself, come in.

All people with video, if you see yourself in the video, please come forward, tell us what you were doing and how you can help us and assist us in solving this horrendous crime.

SIEGEL: Mr. Casale, thanks for talking with us.

CASALE: Thank you very much.

SIEGEL: That's Nicholas Casale, formerly of the New York Police Department and formerly counterterrorism director for the New York MTA.

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